After a decade long legal battle between the Guardian and the UK government, the “black spider memos” between Prince Charles and government ministers have finally been revealed. The Supreme Court decided it was time for the public to see these letters. Named the ‘black spider memos’ after the Prince’s scrawly handwriting.
Reflecting on the intimacy of correspondence, the Guardian’s Robert Booth says we can now explore “the heart of relationship between Prince Charles and government ministers” and exactly how he lobbied for action against issues he feels strongly about.
Prince Charles’s ‘memos’ delved into a range of topics including agriculture, complementary medicines and the slaughtering of badgers. He appears to be pushing for changes to the political stance on these issues. His detailed letters also indicate that he must have been well briefed on each of the topics.
The release of these letters shows that nobody is above the freedom of information act. As our future king, Charles is expected to remain neutral on political topics. I assume that’s why the British government, and the royal family have tried for years to keep the letters locked in the vault – along with the Queen’s crown.
Although courting some unsavoury topics, Charles mostly stayed away from hard politics, but did on one occasion raise his concerns about cuts to the defense budget. Personal opinions like this from such a respected member of the community could have negative consequences and the publics perception could be influenced by these memos.
Prince Charles was expressing his own concerns on government affairs, and appears to have his intentions in good places. But surely the Royals know his letters carry more weight than others. Their brand name alone holds much weight, and could easily influence public or government decisions., which is why man born into his position must maintain distance, and not share his opinions on politics.
Timing is everything: A new law has just passed that any correspondence from the heir of the throne can’t be made public for 20 years, or 5 years after their death. So perhaps, briefly at least the Monarchy is yet again above the freedom of information act. Who knows what goes on behind castle doors?
From the UK to the US, and traditional correspondence to the electronic super highway, Hillary Clinton recently deleted nearly 32,000 emails she deemed private from her time in the Obama administration. Now a federal judge has agreed to reopen a lawsuit that seeks to gain access to these. People should be careful with the written word, whether it be text, email or traditional letter.
Cheers, Jack & the c word crew